Posted in Uncategorized

Sun Studios and the Revolution of music in 1956

Sam Phillips and Sun Studios holds a legendary status in the history of Rock music. In 1950, Sam Phillips opened the Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN. This is at a time when the south was segregated. Radio stations, public buildings, and schools were divided black and white. Memphis was still under the city commision goverenment organized by E.H. “Boss” Crump who died in 1954. To give a time perspective, my father was born in 1952 and my mother in 1956.  Sam initially had success with black blues singers such as B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf. Also at this time regional popularity was still common as radio stations were generally independently owned and tended to feature artists from the region.

Sam’s biggest artist was Elvis Presley whom he discovered when Elvis stopped by to record a record for his mother’s birthday.  In 1956, Elvis became a huge hit and launched Rock music. Elvis’s first Number 1 hit was “Heartbreak Hotel” in April of that year.

Elvis was not Sam’s only big hit. Around the same time Johnny Cash was recording for Sun Studios and his “I Walk the Line” was a hit for him in 1956 on both the Rock and Country charts.

Roy Orbison who wouldn’t really peak until 1960 was recording with Sun Records at this time.

Carl Perkins wrote and had a hit with “Blue Suede Shoes” on both the country and rhythm and blues charts.  Though Elvis would later become better known for the song. Abour 4 months after the song was released Perkins was in a bad car accident and took months to recover probably leading to him actually becoming better known as a songwriter for other artists. (I actually was sort of at his funeral, it was held on the campus of Lambuth Unviersity while I was a student there.)

In December 1956, a piano playing artist by the name of Jerry Lee Lewis signed with Sun Studios and was present for the Million Dollar Quartet jam sessions that month. He would have a hit in 1957 with “Whole Lotta Shaking’ Goin’ On.”

Sam’s success with these artist lead others to search the studio out in later years, but Sam sold Elvis’s contract to RCA so he could settle debts. In 1959, Sam moved the studio to Madison Avenue but in the mid 1960’s he lost interest in recording music and branched into radio. But his legacy to rock music was set.

1956 in music

1956 Billboard number 1 hits

Posted in Journal, Music

History of Rock n Roll

One of the things I’ve wanted to put together is kinda a historial review of Rock n Roll music. There’s a lot of information out there, but I could not find a good overview with music embedded. I haven’t really decided on a format, but the possibilites are artist overviews, studio highlights, year highlights and maybe something else. I mainly wanted to write this for my niece and nephew to teach them something about Rock n Roll’s history. This sadly is not covered in school. Music appreciation and history are something I believe one should learn even if you have to go out and discover it yourself.

First up I think I should start with is the first Rock n Roll song to make the American Billboard music charts back in 1953. At that time it only recognized most played music, it was not broken down into different genres of music. “Crazy, Man Crazy” by Bill Haley and the Comets.

The next year in 1954 Bill Haley and The Comets recorded “Rock Around the Clock,” but it didn’t hit Number 1 on the charts until 1955. It also hit Number 1 on the UK charts. It stayed in the Top 100 for a then record 38 weeks (approximately 9 1/2 months).

This is tending to lean toward Bill Haley, but he was the early genesis of Rock n Roll and the Rockabilly style.

List of Billboard Number one singles of 1954

List of Billboard Number one singles of 1955

1955 in music

Compare this to 16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford followed “Rock Around the Clock” in the Number 1 slot.